Energy and responsibility
Environmental Education and Responsibility
Global Citizen’s Climate Change and Water Film Festival to Visit Nine US Campuses
Unitarian Universalist Congregation considers “Our Responsibility for Water”
University Policy Aims to Become ’Climate Neutral’ Institution
US Film Festivals Raise Awareness, Mobilize Action on Our Responsibility for Water
Energy & Responsibility: a challenge for the 21st century
Nearly 200 people gathered in Knoxville, Tennessee April 10-12, 2008 for “Energy Responsibility: a conference on ethics and the environment.”
The conference brought together ethicists, legal theorists, policy makers, industry representatives and environmental activists to engage in a conversation about ethics and responsibility in the contested terrain of energy and the environment. Five keynote speakers (Robert H. Socolow, Princeton University; Henry Shue, Merton College, Oxford ; Richard Morgenstern, Resources for the Future ; Dale Bryk, Natural Resources Defense Council and Yale University and Dale Jamieson, New York University) challenged audiences to consider the range of interventions, alternatives and actions available to individuals, communities and governments. Along with projections of future scenarios under different interventions, the speakers described the implications for all living beings of the United States’ slowness to implement significant climate change policies.
A wide range of issues and topics
In eighteen sessions across two days, conference participants considered a wide range of topics, including the ethics of irreversibility; environmental justice and responsibility; the legal, environmental, and moral implications of cross-ridge coal mining; proposals such as carbon trading and carbon caps; justice, capitalism and energy; technological solutions including carbon sequestration and nuclear waste storage; corporate responsibility; individual and collective responsibility; and planning for alternative energy enterprises.
Responsibility for the Future
Nina Gregg of the US CHR committee invited Chuline Carson, Earth Charter Atlanta and Don Huisingh, representing Green Cross, to collaborate on a workshop on ‘Using Ethics to Inform Responsible Action.’ Twenty workshop participants became familiar with the ethical commitments of the Charter of Human Responsibilities, Earth Charter and Green Cross. Using the Responsibility for the Future exercise, workshop participants then created a graphic image of ‘our dream of our energy future.’ The exercise leads participants through imagining what we want the future to be, identifying barriers that constrain the achievement of the desired future, and consideration of resources that are available to overcome those barriers. The workshop closed with commitments to action from each participant.
Youth caucus presents statement
During the conference a youth caucus convened to consider the responsibility of higher education in addressing energy issues, and the role of students in addressing energy issues with respect to current generations, our future, and our prosperity. Caucus members reviewed the Charters of Responsibility created by youth in India, the Philippines, and Brazil. The conference closed with a compelling statement presented by the youth caucus, who made it clear that they are assuming responsibility now for the conditions we have delivered to them.
Conference organization and documentation
The Energy Responsibility Conference was proposed two years ago by the US Charter Coordinator. A planning committee designed the conference, sought sponsors, invited and recruited participants, requested proposals for presentations and workshops, reviewed and made selections from among all the proposals, and handled logistics. One-fifth (20%) of the conference budget went to scholarships to enable the participation of activists and people from outside the US. We welcomed registrations from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ghana, Iceland, India, Jordan, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK in addition to the US.
The University of Tennessee hosted the conference with sponsorship from the Charter of Human Responsibilities (US), ALCOA, TVA, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Knox Area Transit, and the Sierra Club, Tennessee Chapter. Additional support came from Tennessee Interfaith Power Light (http://www.tn-ipl.org/) and the International Society for Environmental Ethics.
The keynote presentations were videotaped for use by mass media, including C-SPAN, a non-commercial media company with a mission to provide public access to the political process (http://www.c-span.org/).
An edited volume of selected presentations, including the keynote presentations, is in preparation.
The conference has stimulated discussion regarding future CHR events, including working with youth climate change activists (see www.climateaction.net and www.ejcc.org) on another conference with an emphasis on responsibility and action.